Isolated tracks. They’re great for figuring out parts, getting inspired, getting a sense of what techniques have gone into the recording and mixing of a track, as well as showing just what your favorite musicians are capable (or not capable ) of. Here we take a look at the best of the best isolated Metallica tracks on YouTube and just what makes them so great.
Enter Sandman, Guitars Only
Often times, isolating guitar tracks reveals how surprisingly rough your formerly favorite riffs are actually performed. Not so here.
The performance here – like all of The Black Album – is literally flawless, showing just what a year of recording and a million dollars gets you.
And love him or loathe him, Bob Rock’s production is a master class in guitar girth, and shows what a great player, excellent gear, a trained ear, and a ton of EQ is capable of.
Disposable Heroes, Drums Only
Drenched in reverb but still jamming hard, Lars Ulrich shows that despite a legion of haters, he does, deep down, have chops to burn. Seamlessly switching from half to double-time feels, tight as a tiger and undeniably catchy, Ulrich owns this track. Check out some of the best fills of his career, starting at 4:08.
Credit where credit is due.
Blackened, Bass Only
You know it, I know, even your granny knows it: Jason Newsted got screwed over on …And Justice for All.
Nowhere to be found in the mix (notoriously Lars Ulrich instructed mixer Steven Thompson to “Take it down about 6db… now take it down about another 4db where you can barely audibly hear it.”), Newsted’s first outing with the group left fans wondering just what the hell had happened to Metallica’s trademark sound.
Well this track shows just what we’ve been missing all these years. Newsted’s tone is crisp, meaty and the (Newsted-penned) riffs are solid as a Mac truck.
All hail King Newsted.
Fuel, Vocals Only
Somewhere along the way James Hetfield decided he wanted to sing – for reals, actual singing that is. Results, as they say, may vary however, and many of us still pine for the angry, gravel-voiced Hetfield of old, vocal nodes be damned.
Well this track shows that Hetfield’s modern singing technique has its benefits. Combining a venomous delivery with great pitch and perfect (if sparse) harmonies, Papa Het shows why he’s one of the greatest frontmen of all time.
And yes, that’s a tambourine that enters around the three minute mark. Whatever works though, right?
Shortest Straw, Guitars Only
While many site The Unforgiven as Hammett’s high-water mark, to me it’s always been Shortest Straw‘s devilishly difficult lead break that really displayed The Ripper’s talents. Following Hetfield’s impossibly clinical and precise rhythms is never going to be an easy task but Hammett rises to the occasion, displaying Satch-approved whammy antics, awesomely out-of-key artificial harmonics and a chromatic major-dyad descending lick that slips past like quicksilver.
No Leaf Clover, Vocal Only
One of the underrated gems from 1999’s S&M, No Leaf Clover shows just what versatility Metallica is capable of in the right setting. This isolated track also show Bob Rock’s unfortunately heavy-handed use of autotune during Metallica’s difficult middle years.
Flawless, for all intents and purposes, Hetfield’s live delivery appears impossibly perfect, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder holder they say, and that fact is, tuned vocal or not, this song jams.
All Nightmare Long, Bass Only
Rob Trujillo brings the thunder on this isolated track from 2008’s comeback album, Death Magnetic.
Showing that not having a pick can in fact be an asset, Trujillo’s ripping bass line is fat, melodic, but above all tight, and provides so much more than just a solid foundation for the other members to shine.
Good work, Brother Rob.
Dyers Eve, Drums Only
Has Lars got double kick chops? Yes. Yes he does.
Master of Puppets, Bass Only
Sure, there’s plenty of bass frequencies on those early Metallica records, but the density of those Flemming Rasmussen recordings can make it hard to hear what legendary lead bass guitarist Cliff Burton is actually up to.
Fret no more though, because YouTube is a goldmine of Cliff Burton brilliance in all its isolated glory.
Burton’s basslines offer a surprising amount of swing and groove considering the machine gun quality of Hetfield’s riffage here. And like any good bass player Burton seizes the opportunity offered by the mellow middle eight to really make his mark, spicing things up with some tasty (and surprisingly speedy) licks over the clean, chiming interlude.